Many parents consider moving out of a large home when the kids complete college and start their own career. Buckhead couple Karen and Ryan Canavan began fantasizing about it a little earlier, after someone knocked on the door of their Brookhaven home and made an offer to buy it.
The stranger simply wanted to move into the neighborhood, and the inquiry got Karen thinking about being free from the five-bedroom house they had lived in for 16 years.
This story originally appeared in the September/October 2016 edition of Living Intown Magazine.
With the Canavans’ oldest daughter, Addy, attending Auburn University, and their 15-year-old soon out of high school, the family came to see how much money goes into the upkeep of an aging home.
“Things were starting to go,” says Karen, a public relations executive. “We needed a new roof and appliances, and had to make repairs to the deck. It made us think, ‘This really sucks.’ ”
Instead of launching a makeover, the Canavans put up a for-sale sign. The house sold within a few months, leaving the family with just three weeks to find new digs. Their top criteria was a walkable community and less reliance on a car.
In May, they moved into the Residences Buckhead Atlanta, a 22-story apartment building on Buckhead Avenue. The 1,440-square-foot space has two bedrooms and an open living plan with floor-to-ceiling windows of skyline views. It also includes access to amenities their house never had: an outdoor area with grills, seating and a fireplace; a heated pool surrounded by outdoor beds; a library; a fitness center; a billiards room; a catering kitchen; and a theater with recliners, throw pillows, a popcorn maker and a pizza oven.
“We sold our stuff, donated items, put a few things in storage and changed our lives,” Karen says. “It’s actually brought us closer together. We eat dinner together more now than we did before because we love to go down to the grill and sit outside. We’re having a blast.”
The move also made for a more carefree budget, without bills for real estate taxes, maintenance, landscaping and utilities. The biggest expenses so far have come from IKEA, where Karen bought a contemporary sectional and a fluffy area rug for the open living area.
“We had a lot of traditional stuff, but I think all we kept was an antique clock,” says Ryan, a medical device sales executive. “We’re not the least bit cramped. It doesn’t feel like an apartment. And the best part is it feels like we’re on vacation. I can come home and sit by the pool with a beer. In fact, we gave up our bikes when we lived in the house, but we’re going to get them back.”
There are opportunities to negotiate fees when moving to places with numerous amenities. “There is always wiggle room with additional fees like parking,” Karen Canavan says. “Ask for ways to get your rent and expenses where they need to be.”
A few blocks away, Denis Reggie has been enjoying a similar lifestyle for two years. A renowned wedding and celebrity photographer whose grown children have moved on, Reggie gave up an 8,000-square-foot house on Wieuca Road for one of the 125 units at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. The condos come with all the amenities of the hotel. Reggie’s goal was to trade the house for the same freedom he experienced when he owned a condo at the Four Seasons Atlanta.
“I travel so much that it’s great to be in a place like this with 12 staff people who take care of things,” he says. “In fact, I’ve never parked my car in the two years I’ve been here. They even hang my dry cleaning in the closet.”
The posh residences share Ritz-style amenities: a 24-hour concierge; club rooms; bars; meeting and media rooms; a catering kitchen; a fitness center; guest suites for visitors; outdoor grills and seating areas; and a pool with stunning downtown views.
“I want my private space, but I love the shared areas, like the pool with towel service,” Reggie says. The nearly 1,500-square-foot condo is filled with his favorite antiques, paintings and oriental rugs.
“At the same time, photography is not a studio-based business anymore, and it’s important to me to still offer a positive visitor experience,” he adds. “Here, a client can drop something off at the desk or meet with me in one of the conference rooms.”
Several of his Wieuca Road neighbors downsized as they entered retirement, but Reggie says he’s busier now than he has been in the last seven years, and enjoys being able to depart to New York or Rome with ease. “It’s a very relaxing way to live,” he says.
There’s room for overnight company in guest suites at the Ritz-Carlton Residences. “Plus there are several full-service hotels nearby,” Dennis Reggie says.